SYMPATHY FOR THE DREADFUL
Tim Floyd went from the best job in the NBA to the worst--while
never leaving Chicago
This is an article from the Dec. 3, 2001 issue
You can't judge a coach by his record--at least not in Chicago,
where the Bulls' Tim Floyd had lost 180 of 226 games through
Sunday. Floyd's winning percentage of .204 is the worst of any
coach in NBA history with at least 150 games, but his boss
readily concedes Floyd isn't the problem. "He's doing a good
job," says VP of basketball operations Jerry Krause.
No, the problem is the absence of talent provided by Krause
since he hired Floyd in July 1998, one month after Michael
Jordan won his final ring. How would Phil Jackson like to take
the floor with Bryce Drew, Fred Hoiberg and Brad Miller, who
were starters for last year's 15-67 Bulls? Of the 40 players
Floyd coached in Chicago before this season, 26 are no longer in
the NBA. Says the 47-year-old Floyd, "I try not to equate my
self-esteem, who I am as a man, with wins."
Floyd was a college coach with a .651 winning percentage and
only one losing season in 12 years when his friend Krause lured
him from Iowa State. At the time, Jordan had yet to announce his
second "retirement," and Floyd was lambasted for daring to
imagine that five NCAA tournament appearances qualified him to
take over a veteran team that had won six NBA titles.
Those negative perceptions have vanished, largely because Floyd
has absorbed his wounds with a rare dignity. He's respected for
getting the Bulls to play hard despite their inadequacies, and
he has remained loyal to his boss, insisting that Krause has
been wrongly accused of everything from pushing Jordan out the
door to telling prospective draft pick Darius Miles that Chicago
wouldn't let him wear cornrows.
Every morning Floyd meditates for 45 minutes, planning a
strategy for the day and putting on a game face that will
convince the players that he has not given up. "The losing has
altered the way I coach," says Floyd, whose hopes of a
turnaround were hurt when injuries to three of his starters
helped ensure a familiar 1-11 start. "When you're losing,
players become really sensitive. I catch myself not being as
tough with them as I normally would be. If you go too far, you
run the risk of a team quitting on you."
Now that Krause has finally committed to rebuilding around high
school rookies Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, Floyd says he can
see the Bulls turning the corner--in three or four years. How
much failure can he take? "I wouldn't feel comfortable walking
away with the record as it is," Floyd says. If he were to decide
someday to cut his losses and return to college ball, no one
would blame him. Let the record state that Floyd, in all
categories but one, is a winner.
Five Coaches Who Took Over Dynasties
Bill Russell, Celtics
Assumed helm of nine-time champions before 1966-67 season; won
two titles in three-year stint as player-coach.
Phil Bengtson, Packers
Winning wasn't everything for Lombardi's 1968 successor, who went
20-21-1 in three seasons.
Claude Ruel, Canadiens
Replaced eight-time Stanley Cup winner Toe Blake after 1968
season; earned another Cup in '69 but missed playoffs in '70.
Gene Bartow, UCLA basketball
John Wooden's replacement in 1975 went 52-9 over two years but
failed to win national championship.
George Seifert, 49ers
Took over three-time champs in 1989; won Super Bowl in first
season and again five years later.
MLS MYSTERY MAN
BILLIONS FOR SOCCER
Last week it became clearer than ever that the future of Major
League Soccer depends almost entirely on one mysterious man.
Denver-based billionaire Phil Anschutz--Saint Phil to American
soccer fans--bought the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, raising
his stake to five of the MLS's 12 teams. MLS sources say it's
possible Anschutz may someday own the entire league.
With $250 million in losses since it began in 1996, MLS needs a
sugar daddy with deep pockets and a long-term view, and Anschutz
(net worth: $9.6 billion) provides both. He made his fortune in
oil, railroads and telecommunications and now heads AEG, a
sports and entertainment empire whose interests include L.A.'s
Lakers and Kings, the Staples Center and five European hockey
teams. Anschutz is convinced that with careful nurturing, MLS
can rival the world's best soccer leagues. Part of that vision
is a soon-to-be-built $100 million complex in suburban L.A. that
will include a 20,000-seat stadium for his Galaxy.
Why does Anschutz, 61, think MLS can make money? No one knows
for sure. He hasn't given an interview in two decades and
declines to have his photo taken. Dubbed the Billionaire Next
Door by FORTUNE, he drives ordinary cars, runs marathons and
prefers to sit in the stands instead of in a luxury box at games.
There is, of course, a risk for MLS in relying so heavily on
Anschutz: If he pulls out, the league would almost certainly go
belly-up. Says commissioner Don Garber, "We would have enormous
struggles in determining our future without AEG." For now,
however, Anschutz is taking responsibility for that future. He's
reportedly finalizing a deal in which he'll buy the U.S.
English-language TV rights for the next two World Cups, resell
them to ABC/ESPN and throw in a new MLS TV contract through the
end of 2006. In essence, Anschutz (and perhaps other MLS
investors) will be subsidizing the league's TV coverage, which
should keep MLS afloat for at least five more years. Whether
soccer in the U.S. can begin to make money by then remains to be
seen, but thanks to its sugar daddy, MLS will at least get a
chance to find out.
A Short History
Last week the NBA fined nine players, including L.A.'s Shaquille
O'Neal and Kobe Bryant and Orlando's Andrew DeClercq and Tracy
McGrady, $5,000 each for wearing shorts that extended lower than
one inch above the knee. Here's a brief look at some historic
highs and lows of basketball shorts.
Think NBA fashion was conservative in the old days? Bob Cousy and
his contemporaries flashed plenty of leg in the league's
By the '80s, shorts had gotten even more revealing, as Julius
Erving led a high-flying wave of players who preferred the
Taking a cue from Michael Jordan, Jalen Rose's Fab Five Michigan
team in 1992-93 fostered the trend toward the knee-length hem.
Who needs short shorts? Australia's 1996 women's Olympic team
made the question moot with groundbreaking one-pieces.
No pants? No problem. Walt Williams's low shorts, high socks and
kneepads are the NBA's closest approximation to trousers.
Lions wideout Herman Moore is sidelined for the season with a
bruised hip, but you won't find him sulking in his
12,000-square-foot suburban Detroit crib. The 11-year vet has
the perfect antidote for armchair ennui: Herman's Place. The
$200,000 screening room is equipped with a wall-mounted
12-by-10-foot projection screen, a state-of-the-art sound system
and eight reclining seats wide enough to accommodate the
bulkiest NFL lineman. Outside is a mock ticket booth, manned by
a mock Denzel Washington (above). "When I come in, I grab my
touch-screen remote," says Moore, whose movie library boasts
3,000 titles. "I hit it, and it fires everything up. The curtain
opens, the lights come on and then dim at the 2 1/2-minute mark,
just as they do in a theater. Under the floor are little tremor
packs, so if you're watching Jurassic Park, you feel the shaking."
Moore sometimes slips out to the megaplex with his wife, Angii,
and their two sons, Aaron, 9, and Ashton, 7. "The environment is
more social there," he says. "My wife and I consider it our date
night." Still, his home theater is no passing fancy. "I wanted
my own private room for watching movies uninterrupted," he says.
Why not? Besides, the man has his own popcorn cart. How cool is
Q With $1 million in winnings at last weekend's Skins Game at
Landmark Golf Club in Indio, Calif., Greg Norman became the
first golfer in the 18-year history of the event to pocket the
entire purse. The three other participants--Colin Montgomerie,
Jesper Parnevik and Tiger Woods--claimed nothing from the pot.
But did they really walk away empty-handed?
A Although each competitor's expenses are covered by the event's
sponsors, it's technically true that the Skins Game players
receive no guaranteed money. However, while Montgomerie and
Parnevik apparently did go home cashless, Woods was compensated
for his appearance. Last summer he signed a reported five-year,
multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with Disney, parent company
of Skins Game broadcaster ABC, to play in one made-for-TV event
per year. Four of those will be Skins Games. In essence Woods's
payout for last weekend's work was at least as much as Norman's.
You didn't really expect Tiger to get shut out completely, did
Former major league pitcher Bo Belinsky, 64, of a heart attack
at his home in Las Vegas. As an Angels rookie in 1962 he threw
the first major league no-hitter on the West Coast. Belinsky had
a 28-51 record in eight seasons with five teams but was better
known for his hard partying and his dalliances with such
starlets as Mamie Van Doren, Ann-Margret and Tina Louise. Last
year he told SI, "We spend the first 50 years of our lives
satisfying our ego and the rest trying to clean our slate."
Eagles safety Damon Moore, with cruelty to animals, for leaving
his 3-month-old Rottweiler puppy tied to a tree near a soccer
field near his house in Voorhees, N.J., in an attempt to get rid
of the dog. The SPCA traced the animal to Moore through a
microchip implanted under its skin. Moore, who apologized for
his "bad judgment," was scheduled for a court date this week.
MasterCard and its ad agency, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, by
Twins fans David Hoch and Joe Marble, over the company's ads
depicting two guys traveling the U.S. in a VW van to attend big
league games. Hoch and Marble say the idea for the ad was stolen
from a documentary they made in 1998 in which they traveled the
U.S. in a VW van to attend big league games. McCann-Erickson
calls the suit "without merit."
In Las Vegas, the Palms Hotel and Casino, owned by Sacramento
Kings owners Gavin and George Maloof. Its sports book won't take
action on NBA games.
Three-time Formula One champion and 1973 SI Sportsman of the
Year Jackie Stewart. After being dubbed by Prince Charles, who's
nursing an eye injury, the Scottish race driving legend noted,
"He said I was very brave to be knighted by him with a sword."
READING, WRITING AND RBIS
With first-semester final exams around the corner, college
students are busy cracking their textbooks, in some cases for
the first time. Herewith, a few sports courses (with excerpts
from the syllabi) that scholars will be sweating over this year.
SCHOOL Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa) COURSE Lovable Losers:
Behind the Cultural Following of the Chicago Cubs DESCRIPTION
"Through a study of the history of the Chicago Cubs, we will
expand on the issue of loyalty--what does it mean to be loyal to
teams, friends, family members, oneself?"
SCHOOL Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.) COURSE Baseball
and the American Experience: 1919-1948 DESCRIPTION "Will analyze
the world of sports as a matter of private business and public
policy [and] why increasing numbers of public officials are
joining with constituents to demand economic reform and greater
SCHOOL Emory University (Atlanta) COURSE Science and Myth of
Baseball DESCRIPTION "Why is making $30 million so important to
a player who 'just loves the game'? Why, as a fan, does it all
matter so much?"
SCHOOL Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.) COURSE The Economics
of Sports DESCRIPTION "Topics will include player compensation,
revenue-sharing, salary caps, free agency, tournaments, salary
discrimination, professional franchise valuation, league
competitiveness, college athletics and the economics of sports
stadiums and arenas."
SCHOOL St. John Fisher College (Rochester, N.Y.) COURSE Sports as
Consumer Culture DESCRIPTION "We investigate such figures as
Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman, watch films Any Given Sunday
and Blue Chips and read about high school football in Texas."
SCHOOL University of Utah (Salt Lake City) COURSE The Winter
Olympics DESCRIPTION "A series of lectures on the history of the
Winter Olympics will serve as a prelude to the 2002 Games."
SCHOOL State University of New York, Brockport COURSE Sports
Spectating in the United States DESCRIPTION "Topics and issues
pertaining to sports spectating from theoretical, empirical and
experiential perspectives.... Opportunities provided for
student-initiated field research projects."
Kazaam and Steel might not have done much for Shaquille O'Neal's
acting career, but his recent turn in the HBO comedy series Curb
Your Enthusiasm could be just the spark Shaq needs. In the
episode, star Larry David--cocreator of Seinfeld--trips and
injures O'Neal while stretching his legs in a courtside seat.
David then visits Shaq in the hospital for a hilarious scene in
which the two end up concurring that peanut butter is a dairy
product. Most impressive was that Shaq's performance, like most
scenes in the series, was done without a script. "It was all
improvisation," says Shaq. "Good actor that I am, it was easy."
Did he get any tips from David? "No," says O'Neal. "Actually, he
was kind of surprised at how funny I was."...
Danny Wuerffel is the latest athlete to cut a CD, but unlike
other jocks, he's not flowing about the grittiness of the mean
streets. On the 14-song Heaven and Nature Sings--Christmas with
Danny Wuerffel, Family and Friends, the Bears' quarterback
(right) lends his vocal stylings to such chestnuts as Silent
Night and Joy to the World and also plays piano, harmonica and
trumpet. Proceeds will go to New Orleans's Desire Street
Ministries. "Like a lot of athletes, I'm kind of a wannabe
musician," said Wuerffel. "I'm not real talented, but I enjoyed
Not only is skateboarder Tony Hawk set to star in a
yet-to-be-titled action adventure, but Disney has also acquired
the movie rights to his autobiography, Hawk: Occupation:
Skateboarder. The story, which follows Hawk's rise from gawky
outcast to alt-sport icon, reportedly will be a cross between
Rocky and Fast Times at Ridgemont High....
Mark McGwire's retirement is shaping up as a blissful one. Big
Mac, 38, got engaged last month to Stephanie Slemer, 24, a sales
rep for a St. Louis pharmaceutical firm. The two met through a
mutual friend. "My parents weren't big sports fans, so they
weren't as gaga over him as some parents might be," Slemer told
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But now that they've met him, she
said, "They absolutely love him." No date has been set.
Career scoring average through Monday of Hawks forward
Abdur-Rahim's scoring average during Ramadan, which requires
him, as a Muslim, to fast during daylight hours.
Days of the week on which Louisville's football team will have
played games by the end of the season, missing only Wednesday
Price of a bleacher seat in Wrigley Field next season, 60% more
than the same ticket cost two seasons ago.
Times that Robbie the Bobby, the policeman mascot for the
English soccer club Bury, has been ejected from games this
season, twice for mooning opposing fans and once for brawling
with Cardiff City mascot Barclay the Bluebird.
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
Hawaiian Organics is marketing a chlorophyll-based pill called
Body Mint that's intended to remove the smell from sweat.
Browns president, after Cleveland defensive tackle Gerard Warren
was apprehended for possession of an unlicensed firearm: "The
police officer who arrested him said he was one of the finest
and nicest people he's ever arrested."